|Asia News Digest
Philippines High Court
Upholds Presidential System
The Philippines Supreme Court has ruled against an effort to scrap the current Presidential system and adopt a dictatorial parliamentary system, the Philippines Inquirer reported Oct. 25. President Gloria Arroyo, Speaker of the House Jose DeVenecia, and the old U.S. asset Fidel Ramos took one on their collective chin Oct. 25 when the Court ruled 8-7 that the "people's initiative" to change the Constitution was invalid. The threesome have made no secret of their hatred of the "checks and balances" of the Presidential system, in which the Senate and the Supreme Court have acted as a brake on the overtly illegal and dictatorial policies of the Executive branch.
The Court's decision rested on the deciding vote by Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, who earlier this year led the Court in ruling against the Arroyo Administration on three issues which attempted to assert Executive powers over the checks and balances in the Constitution: denying Congress the right to call members of the government and the military to testify; forceful break-up of demonstrations; and the imposition of martial law conditions without the consent of the Congress
In the current ruling, the Court said that there was no basis in the law for a "people's initiative" to scrap the Constitution, and that the 6 million signatures on the petition were clearly gathered by government officialshardly a "people's" initiative. They wrote: "No one can trivialize the Constitution by cavalierly amending or revising it in blatant violation of the clearly specified modes of amendment and revision laid out in the Constitution itself," or the nation would end up with a "revolving-door constitution."
Arroyo and her controllers will appeal the decision, and hope to ram through the reorganization after the Chief Justice retires at the end of the year. Alternatively, they plan to rip up the Constitution first, ignore the Senate, and have the House, which is under the Administration's control, declare the charter changean option that would likely blow the country apart.
Is U.S. Seventh Fleet Preparing
To Blockade North Korea?
The U.S. Seventh fleet is reported to be preparing a blockade of North Korea, which former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung warns will mean war. The Age of Australia reported from Japan Oct. 21 that the Seventh Fleet, based in Japan, "has already mobilized vessels. including the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Kittyhawk and its strike group, for exercises in the region." Guided missile carriers and destroyers are in the group, according to the U.S. Navy.
Kim Dae-Jung, in an interview with AP Oct. 21, warned that "North Korea could resist with force if its ships are inspected. We cannot know for sure now how this kind of small conflict could escalate in the future." He reminded President Bush that the original armistice in the Korean War, the rapprochement with China, and reconciliation with the Soviet Union, all happened under Republican Presidents. "Why can't Bush, a Republican, have a dialogue" with the North? Kim asked. "If the U.S. is to succeed, then the U.S. has to learn from the past failures and successes of history. It must not repeat the mistakes of history."
North Korea's leading negotiator, Kim Kye Gwan, told ABC-TV, "We believe that the nuclear test that we've already held gives us full deterrent, sufficient deterrent power, and we hope to return to six-party talks."